Brazil's first attempt to launch a nationally built satellite on an indigenous launcher ended in failure on 2 November. The South American nation was seeking to become the ninth country in the world to have succeeded in the dual task.

The $6.5 million, Veiculo Lancador de Satelites (VLS), a 19m-long, all-solid-propellant booster, was carrying the Brazilian-built, $5 million SCD-2A environment-data-collection satellite. It was destroyed by range safety officers at an altitude of 9,670ft (2,950m), 65s after launch from Alcantara, on the Atlantic coast, 1,980km (1,000nm) north-east of thecapital Brasilia.

It is thought that one of the booster's four first-stage strap-on motors failed to ignite, causing the vehicle to go out of control.

Work on the development of the 50t VLS - based on the Sonda sub-orbital rocket series, designed to place spacecraft weighing up to 350kg into low-Earth orbit - began more than 15 years ago and has been supported by a $160 million-a-year space programme. Brazil, meanwhile, has signed an agreement with NASA to build equipment to be flown aboard the International Space Station, with a national astronaut.

Source: Flight International